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DRIVEN TO KILL; He called me a slut, throttled me, assaulted me with a bottle and raped me..but I didn't mean to stab him. I still LOVED him BATTERED WIFE DENIES MURDER.

Byline: ROSA PRINCE

A WOMAN wept as she told a court yesterday how she stabbed her husband to death after four years of sexual and physical abuse.

Patricia Lawrence, 25, claimed she was raped and suffered a horrifying sexual attack with a bottle.

The fashion boutique manageress, who denies murder, said she had lost count of the times she had been beaten up by him.

On one occasion her husband Peter, 24, terrified her so much with his violence, she said: "I wet myself."

On March 15 last year, she stabbed him to death, two weeks after he had allegedly assaulted her with the bottle.

The Old Bailey murder trial heard that Lawrence's husband was arrested for rape and several times for assault, but she always dropped the charges.

She even took him back after taking out two non-molestation orders and fleeing to a women's refuge.

Lawrence, of Streatham, South London, sobbed: "I did not stick with the orders because I loved him. He wasn't all bad. He had a lot of problems."

She said he was often unemployed during the four-year marriage and she would also keep losing her job.

"I would not be able to go to work because I had black eyes," she said.

The abuse sent her into a spiral of despair and she was given anti-depressants. She said: "I did not want anyone to know what was going on. I felt embarrassed."

Lawrence, from an Irish Catholic family who grew up both in London and Londonderry, met the handsome 6ft 3in Englishman in 1997.

They were married in January 1998 after a six-week romance.

She already had a son and they went on to have a boy together in 2000.

She said: "I thought he was gorgeous. People said we were the perfect couple."

But the day after the wedding he beat her for the first time in a jealous rage after his cousin put his coat round her.

She said: "When we got home, he called me a slag and a whore. He hit me and punched me and threw my mobile at me. He could not control himself."

The police became regular visitors at their home, but Patricia said: "I only called the police when I was afraid he might hurt me too much."

The couple moved to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland close to her parents but, the court heard, they had to return to England after he half-strangled her and chased her into the street with a baseball bat.

Lawrence said: "It was a Catholic estate and they don't take too kindly to an Englishman behaving like that. Before we returned to London, he promised my mum he'd never touch me again."

But she said the beatings got worse after her husband began taking crack cocaine. She was also horrified when she found him in bed with her cousin.

When she later discovered the couple in a pub, she threw her wedding ring at him. He dragged her home and allegedly raped her. She said: "My body went numb. I was crying."

The court heard that she was taken in by a rape crisis centre and police began proceedings against her husband - but she dropped the charge.

The couple moved back to Northern Ireland but the violence continued, and once again they returned to England as she had taken an order out against him which only applied there.

She told how, on the day she stabbed him, she had dyed her hair, done her nails and was lying naked except for her bra on the sofa when he came in. She had drunk half a bottle of wine and two alcopops.

Lawrence said: "Peter was upset that there was no bed linen. The last thing I remember is lying on the sofa with my head back and being strangled. The next thing I recall is kneeling beside him and him bleeding and the ambulance men being there. I can't remember anything else.

"I loved my husband. I miss him. I did not mean to stab him. I just wanted him to stop strangling me."

She said that she wanted to go to his funeral but would be unwelcome. But she said: "Peter's father has forgiven me."

But Wendy Joseph QC, prosecuting, said Lawrence's claims about her husband's abuse were a gross exaggeration.

Miss Joseph added the attack was carried out in "temper and anger" and that she used more force than was necessary.

Her husband died after a single blow penetrated his stomach, spleen and major blood vessels. He suffered a heart attack brought on by massive internal bleeding and died in the early hours of March 16.

Blood tests showed that Lawrence was mildly drunk at the time of the killing.

The trial continues.

CAPTION(S):

DEATH: Lawrence flat; DENIAL: Patricia Lawrence
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 5, 2003
Words:801
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